Leuven is a city east of Brussels and the eighth-largest city in Belgium with more than 100,000 inhabitants. KU Leuven, Europe’s most innovative university, has its flagship campus in Leuven. Leuven is a historical city with an industrial past and a tech-driven future and was in 2020 named as European Capital of Innovation by the European Commission.
Centuries of science, research and technological development are rooted in the history of the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), for years now elected as ‘the most innovative university in Europe’, according to Reuters. Through the years, KU Leuven has produced hundreds of spin-offs and keeps on investing in innovation. Add to that translational research (bench-to-bedside) by the University Hospital (UZ Leuven), and strategic research centres such as the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC) and that number only increases.
In 2016, the Leuven MindGate project was founded to enhance the collaboration between all the innovative partners in the Leuven region. One of the projects on which Leuven MindGate focuses, is to use smart technologies for sustainable, healthy living and moving in and around the city.
Numerous organisations in the Leuven region and the city administration itself are currently cooperating in order to work out advanced ideas around Smart City technology, which is also a crucial step in Leuven’s goal to become climate neutral by 2030. For this particular goal, the organisation Leuven 2030 was founded. Leuven 2030 strives for a climate-neutral future for Leuven, representing inhabitants, companies, civil society organisations, knowledge institutions and public authorities. They do this by combining science (scientific framework), social power (bringing people together around projects) and storytelling (inspiring stories about the steps taken).
The award of ‘European Capital of Innovation’, which Leuven received in 2020, shows that the city is on the way forward. The prestigious award from the European Commission rewards the city that makes the best use of innovation to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants. The European Commission praised the way in which Leuven sets up inspiring governance models in which residents, companies, organisations and knowledge institutions are committed to help shape the future, and eventually become… a smart(er) city in all possible meanings.